A proposed North Naples tire store has ignited something akin to road rage from a homeowner’s association across the street. Residents of Collier’s Reserve are objecting to a plan that would allow a tire store to be built at Creekside Commerce Park, which is on the south side of Immokalee Road between Creekside Drive and Goodlette-Frank Road.
Not only do residents say the store is not a good fit for the neighborhood, but they say they were not given the opportunity to voice their opinions against it during the approval process.
Thomas Graham, a resident of Collier’s Reserve, said he thinks a tire store is not consistent with the businesses that have been developed along that stretch of Immokalee Road.
“It about the effect on the neighborhood, building a tire store across from an Audubon-certified neighborhood,” he said. “Changing tires causes noise. We are concerned that it might have some effect on our property values.”
Residents believe the approval process for the proposed tire store — which would also have the ability to do minor automotive repairs — short-circuited their ability to be involved.
Developer Barron Collier Cos. should have amended the plans for the yet-unnamed store through a process that would have required a public hearing at the Collier County Planning Commission, they argue. Instead, the developers opted to amend the zoning of that parcel through a zoning letter, which didn’t require them to give the neighborhood specific notice.
The county’s Growth Management Division determined that the store was a “comparable and compatible use” in the development, which includes a post office and a gas station.
Rich Yvonovich, the attorney representing the developer, said the proposed tire store meets the criteria of the development. It was also approved by the county months ago as an existing permitted use for the property.
But the changes never went before the planning commission because the development was amended using a zoning letter of determination through the land development services division of the county, which was then approved by Collier County commissioners. The process did not require a public hearing because the developer only asked to amend the zoning for the particular parcel, not the entire development.
According to the zoning letter, which was sent June 18 by the county, the tire store use was approved with several conditions including: There will be no direct access to Immokalee Road and bay or overhead doors will not face Immokalee Road.
Those conditions were not good enough for the residents whose neighborhood fronts Immokalee Road.
Patrick White, the attorney representing the neighborhood, and the residents argue that the tire store, which would be located in the business portion of the development, doesn’t belong across the street from a residential area.
White said his clients did not have the notice to be adequately heard on the issue. In fact, he said, it was not until he was hired by the neighborhood association in November that his clients even became aware of the zoning letter and its approval by commissioners in July.
White went to commissioners asking for their help, but a majority sided with the county. White said the next option, if the neighborhood chooses to take it, will be legal action.
“Had this been done properly, the concerns would have been heard at a public meeting,” he said. “And if a tire store was compatible, it would not have to include the limiting conditions added to the list.”
This isn’t the first time residents of Collier’s Reserve have vocalized their displeasure with changes to the surrounding area. They also protested the removal of mature trees in the Riverchase Plaza at U.S. 41 and Immokalee Road, which is to the west of their development. That prompted County Commission chairwoman Georgia Hiller to demand a review of the decision-making process that allowed the trees to be removed.
“It seems like the county is making these decisions and they are not following their own policies,” said Graham, an outspoken critic of the removal of the trees. “And they want us to accept that part of it.”